Take this journey to improve your timing and skills. Use it as a warmup or to structure a whole session.

The Main Idea

Learning to play with a metronome or while tapping your foot is learning a new instrument. You’re now a drummer!

Remember, when you learn a new instrument, you don’t start with a complex piece of music. You start with simple patters and build from there.

In addition to improving your timing, you’ll increase your mental and physical coordination.πŸŒπŸΎβ€β™‚οΈ

Playing with a metronome is a good test of how well you can do something. In order to play with the beat, you need to divide your attention between playing and listening to the metronome. In order to that, the song has to become automatic. πŸ†

Essential steps

Practice with a metronome at 60 bpm.

  1. Listen to the beat
  2. Tap your foot or clap hands (without playing)
  3. Play one note with the beat (without the foot)
  4. Repeat until you lock in with beat
  5. Repeat the process with more complex things: bigger pieces, more challenging tempos
  6. Record yourself with a metronome for feedback

Timing Meditation: 20-minute Routine

This can be shortened and practiced as a warmup. Or lengthened and used to structure a longer practice session.

Practice with a metronome at 60 bpm πŸŽ›οΈ

  1. Listen to the beat
  2. Tap Foot or Clap Hands (without playing)
  3. Play one note with the beat (without the foot)

Bonus step: Close Your Eyes 😌

Enjoy how that feels. Can you feel the body relax?

Do you notice that you’re speeding up? Or does it feel like the beat is slowing down? Weird things happen when you first play with a metronome…

Repeat 𝄇

Repeat the essential steps with quarter notes. When that starts to groove and feel good, then make it more challenging…

Single Note To Song 🎡

Using the same essential steps, move from playing single notes to songs.

Practice with Single Notes

  • Eighth notes
  • Texture: Staccato
  • Hoedown
  • Triplets
  • Chucks (Syncopation)

Scales & Intervals

  • D Major
  • D1-A2
  • D2-A3
  • D3-A1
  • Practice with different note lengths and rhythms


Practice a Chunk with the metronome, still at 60 bpm. If it’s too hard, then just practice a smaller Chunk. If easy, practice bigger Chunks and sections.

Example: Shooting Creek A Part, First Quarter

𝄆 D2-A0-D2-A0-0 | A0-1-0-D3-2-(0-1) 𝄇

A Part, First Quarter, play-along track

Now practice that piece with a metronome 60 bpm.

Is it harder or easier than using the play-along track? Remember to simplify what you do if you struggle too much.


Once you practice a few chunks from the song, then play the whole song with the metronome. Notice if there are spots where you stumble. Then practice those Chunks with a Metronome.

Happy happy joy joy! Because it also lets me focus on relaxing parts of my playing posture at the same time!

Challenge ⛰️

Work at your edge, between boredom and anxiety. A little struggle is fun.

Add the perfect challenge:

  • Practice a bigger Chunk
  • Add Variation: Expression, Rhythm, Texture, Melodic Patterns
  • Transpose

If you struggle too much, then Simplify.

If it’s too easy, practice a bigger piece.

If at any point it’s way too hard, then practice a smaller Chunk.


Use recording to get feedback on your timing.

Make a short recording of yourself playing with a metronome on a single note, scale, chunk or song. Listen back, taking note of where your timing drifts.


Other scales, other songs

Just repeat the process on anything you learn. Return to this on a regular basis. For example, do this Timing Meditation once a month. Or do it every other day if you’re actively trying to improve your timing.

Alternate ↔️: Listen <> Play

Listen for four beats, then play for four beats. Beginner level.

Alternate ↔️: Chunk <> Rhythm Extract

Alternate between a melodic Chunk and its Rhythm Extract on a single note.

Advanced: Rhythm Trainer

The beat will drop out every other bar (every four beats). Keep playing through that space. See if you land on the downbeat when the beat returns!

Tap Foot & Play

This is an advanced variation. Start by foot-tapping quarter notes with the metronome. Then add quarter notes on your instrument.

Then try playing different note lengths while keeping the foot on quarter notes: eighth notes, half, notes.

Then follow the same practice path to add more Challenge.

  • Simple rhythms
  • Scales
  • Chunks
  • Songs

Every so often, return to just listening, the add the foot, then add playing.

Count & Play

This is essentially the same as the Tap Foot & Play variation, except you count instead of tapping the foot.

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Further learning

Find more metronome and metro-drone tracks in the Practice Toolkit at the bottom of the page. ☝️

Shooting Creek – Beginner

Shooting Creek – Intermediate

How to Improve Your Timing With A Metronome

Workshop: How To Improve Your Timing

Improve Your Timing With A Rhythm Trainer

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